Invest in agriculture to promote inclusive growth, build food system to respond to climate change-experts say


The mining and agriculture sectors in the Province of Benguet play a significant roles in contributing to the regional economy. It contributes economic stability and provide product supplies especially in the agriculture sector. These areas –mining (large scale and small scale mining), and agriculture, directly and indirectly, employ a large percentage of the province’ labor force.

Agriculture in the province (Benguet) has come a long way. Modern technology has brought significant innovations- organic and hydroponic methods of farming, thus, helped the vegetable industry to flourish and for the farmers to increase yield. Also the exchange agricultural program entered into between the Province of Benguet and Japanese government. One innovation learned by local farmers- the elevated method of farming like in strawberries.

Through this new method, strawberries and other vegetables now produced whole-year round,
compared to only seasonal in the past. The Philippines being a tropical land, and the province which enjoys a temperate weather condition, its agricultural sector continues to be most vulnerable to climate change. Yearly, the country experienced an average of 20 typhoons, affecting the agriculture sector.

Agriculture experts urged government and the private sector to invest in promoting inclusive growth, and sustainable agriculture and food system to address the impact of climate change- that is resilient to calamities- the goad – food security. In Benguet, for 2023, the province has allocated a total of P36,859.837 million that include P10 million for operations way below from the P11 million mark in 2022. Some challenges faced by the local agriculture sector resulted in many struggles –
access to finance, polices and programs on good agriculture practice (GAP), low farm incomes, and the nagging problem on smuggling.

In random interviews, local farmers acknowledged the national government through the agriculture department as well as local government units initiatives in the agriculture sector. They also pointed the significant improvement in infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads
undertaken by both the department of public works and highways and the provincial engineering.
Asked about the lessons the province learned from the pandemic, Delinia Juan, acting head of the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (Benguet -OPAG) emphatically said hasten crop program , and buy local-eat local.

Juan added that in line with national food sufficiency program , the province is now focusing in strengthening the production of high value crops with able support from the department of agriculture aside from sustaining its support to local farmers such as technical training leading to a good agricultural practices.

Primo Agatep/ABN

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